UCC rejects calls for “no detriment” assessment policy

UCC students were told the policy “would risk undermining the integrity of your degrees”

University College Cork (UCC) has rejected calls from students to implement a “no detriment” policy for summer assessments in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The policy, advocated for by the students of several Irish universities and implemented in a number of UK universities, would mean that as long as students receive a passing mark, their overall average grade cannot be brought down by upcoming assessments.

Students in UCC started a petition last week calling for the policy, which has now collected over 5,600 signatures. However, the college has taken the decision to reject the proposal, telling students that “adopting further so-called ‘safety net’ measures would risk undermining the integrity of your degrees”. 

In an email to students this evening, UCC deputy president and registrar John O’Halloran wrote that UCC “fully acknowledge” the petition, but raised concern due to “the fact that the degrees overseen by the professional accreditation bodies would, we have been advised, have to be exempt from the proposed ‘safety-net’ policy”. 

O’Halloran said that to implement a policy just for degrees not overseen by a professional accreditation body “risks the creation of an unfair two-tier education system”. 

“This is particularly important for Final Year students, as this policy could pose a significant risk to the value of your degree in all future pursuits,” the email read. 

The UCC no detriment campaigners have indicated that they intend to continue their efforts.

Speaking to Trinity News Conall Williamson, a spokesperson for the campaign, said that the UCC response was “vague and unconvincing, and didn’t address the specific grievances that students had with their policy”.

“I also didn’t appreciate the insinuation that UK universities are devaluing their degrees. It makes me wonder if our degrees are worth less in the first place, if they can afford to “devalue” them and we can’t. I’ve addressed their point about accreditation ad nauseum. I am in an accredited course myself, and the exact implementations of these policies are now being worked out in the UK, with the exact same accreditation body”, Williamson stated.

UCC have already implemented a number of measures regarding exams in light of the coronavirus pandemic. These include allowing students personally affected by the virus the opportunity to apply to defer their exams, and the opportunity for students to repeat exams without incurring a fee or academic penalty.

In Trinity, the possible implementation of a “no detriment” policy for summer assessments is due to be discussed at the University Council meeting on Wednesday.

Under the policy, if a student received a mark higher than their average from previous assessments before the closure of College, their average mark would go up, but if they received a mark lower than their average but high enough to pass, their average would remain the same.

Finn Purdy

Finn Purdy is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News. He is a Junior Sophister English Studies student, and a former News Editor and Assistant News Editor.